Epping Forest may be home to lots of wild plants or weeds, but forest rangers have found an unexpected haul of vegetation – abandoned cannabis plants.
The plants, which are often grown in artificial light, were found dumped at different spots throughout Epping Forest, which is owned by the City of London Corporation.
Extraordinarily, the abandoned plants made up a fifth of all the fly tipped waste dumped throughout the popular East London forest in April and May. Builders’ waste makes up the largest amount, adding up to 38% of rubbish abandoned illegally in Epping Forest.
Superintendent Paul Thomson said: “The challenge for people who are growing cannabis illegally is they obviously can’t take it to the dump.”
He told the City’s Epping Forest and Commons committee that his team try to find any clues on the plants to see where they may have come from, but have been foiled so far.
“They use cash payments for hydroponic waste,” he said.
Only people who have a special licence from the Home Office to grow low strength cannabis can grow the plants legally. Overall there was a 4.8% increase in fly-tipping in the forest over the first five months of this year, compared with the same period in 2018.
However, Mr Thomson said eight prosecutions were made and five fly-tippers have pleaded guilty to offences – forking out £5,626 in fines, costs and victim surcharge fees. Two cases are going through the Crown Court and one person was served with a warrant as they did not turn up to court.